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Indian spinners tighten grip

HYDERABAD – India’s new spin twins Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha left New Zealand reeling at 106-5 by the close of play on day two of the first Test at Hyderabad today.

Ashwin claimed 3-30 while Ojha weighed in with 2-35 as the pair of slow bowlers left the Black Caps, replying to the home side’s total of 438, facing the prospect of having to follow-on.

The hosts added 131 runs to their overnight total 307-5, centurion Cheteshwar Pujara leading the way with a fine knock of 159 on his return to the side.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni weighed in with 73 and Ashwin contributed 37 before both fell to Jeetan Patel, who finished as the pick of the Kiwi attack with 4-100.

The off-spinner, making his first appearance for his country since November 2011, was also the man to end Pujara’s long occupation at the crease, though not before the batsman had put on a stand worth 127 with his skipper.

Playing in just his fourth Test, the 24-year-old hit one six and 19 fours before hitting the 306th ball he’d faced high into the sky for a back-pedalling James Franklin to catch at mid-on.

Dhoni also perished trying to hit Patel over the top, and although he made better contact his drive was superbly caught by Doug Bracewell at mid-off.

Trent Boult dismissed Zaheer Khan for a duck and after Ashwin’s fun was ended by fellow slow bowler Patel having hit five boundaries, the innings concluded with the run out of Umesh Yadav.

New Zealand’s reply started well enough against the new ball – until spin was introduced with immediate rewards

Left-armer Ojha was summoned into the attack after just seven overs and struck with just his third delivery, Brendon McCullum going for 22.

Ashwin wasted even less time in making an impact with the ball, Martin Guptill turning the off-spinner’s first ball straight to Virat Kohli at backward short-leg.

The same combination saw off visiting skipper Ross Taylor (two) while Daniel Flynn (16) was trapped leg before attempting to play a sweep shot to Ashwin.

James Franklin (31 not out) did his best to repair the damage alongside Kane Williamson, only for the latter to depart just before stumps were drawn for 32. Ohja found his outside edge to provide Virender Sehwag with a simple slip catch and put India in total command of the series opener. (SKY)

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